How Knight Aerospace Aeromedical Modules Are Changing Airborne Health Care

Knight Aerospace is a company based in San Antonio that sets the industry standard globally for mission-critical specialty air transportation, and is associated with military & civilian use cases in the U.S., Brazil, India, Canada, and others.

Knight Aerospace’s aeromedical module continues to be a pioneer among aerospace companies.

The San Antonio-based company has developed innovative solutions that help military units transport patients, passengers, and VIPs. The aeromedical module is designed to protect patients, travelers, and crew with biocontainment systems. The modules are also designed to allow for treatment, including surgery, during transport.

“We are proud of our team’s hard work over many years to develop a wide range of products that add tremendous value to our clients — from increasing passenger capacity of an aircraft to converting that airplane into a lifesaving space,” says CEO Bianca Rhodes.

Here’s a closer look at the Knight aeromedical module offerings and what sets them apart from similar products produced by other aerospace companies.

Knight Aerospace Builds Groundbreaking Medical Module

The aerospace module is designed to quickly load and unload from multiple military planes, including the C-17, C-130H/J/-30, A400M, and C-390. The modules can be customized to provide customers with the exact specifications necessary for mission success.

The specialized aeromedical modules, such as the Aeromedical Bio-Containment Evacuation System (ABES) deployed by the Royal Canadian Air Force, are designed to act as mobile emergency rooms with the functionalities and capabilities needed to treat patients — up to and including surgical needs.

The ABES allow clinicians to assess, stabilize, and treat up to 12 patients while in flight.

Modular Design Offers Flexibility and Functionality

What sets the ABES apart are the functional capabilities and design flexibility. The modules can be modified to accommodate different numbers of patients and the acuteness of those patients’ conditions, including the safe transport of patients with infectious diseases.

The modules are designed to function like hospital units, with technology that minimizes vibrations and dampens noise internally. The ABES contains enhanced lighting and can be used for major trauma cases and resuscitative procedures if necessary. They also feature full, independent environmental system for temperature and humidity control and maximum air exchanges per hour.

Safety for all involved is paramount in the design. The modules lock into the cargo handling system of the planes and are a self-enclosed unit that create a  controlled environment. The systems comply with U.S. Department of Defense (MIL-HDBK-516 airworthiness certification) and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) regulations for carrying passengers.

Multiple Configurations in One Medical Module

Configurability is a hallmark of the Knight aeromedical modules. Units are designed on platforms approved by the U.S. Air Force, aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and multiple military and civilian organizations across the world.

The modules are designed with safety, comfort, and functionality in mind and can be used in most cargo aircraft.

The modules can be configured for one to nine patients with one to three litter stanchions (with up to three patients per litter), or one to three critical care beds that can be moved away from the wall for complete patient access.

They come with a medical cabinet, a blood cooler, a safe for controlled substances and waste disposal, a sink cabinet, and five attendance seats with pull-down desk trays.

A Closer Look at the Knight Aerospace Bio-Containment Medical Module

As the world continues to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of containing pathogens while treating patients is essential. The Knight biocontainment modules are designed to protect patients while keeping the medical professionals, crew, and aircraft itself safe. The modules can be used multiple times as opposed to offerings from other aerospace companies that are discarded after use.

The module’s configuration includes three components including a clean room for crew research, documentation and respite; an anteroom with direct views of the patient compartment that can be used for donning and doffing procedures (the room also includes shower and biocontainment areas); and a patient care area with space to treat multiple patients with room for medical providers. The space includes biowaste containment and lavatory areas.

The modules include air exchanges equivalent to those found in hospital settings along with isolated, separate environmental-control units for the patients. Walls and floors are sealed to allow for easy cleaning or decontamination.

Available options can include ballistic protection; a ground operating system that includes a trailer, ramps, and tents; advanced communications offerings; and additional medical and operating components.

In 2020, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) purchased a module and has been using it to transport patients from overwhelmed hospitals in one province to hospitals in other parts of the country.

Flying Surgical Suite Sets the Standard Among Aerospace Companies

If needed, the modules can be configured for surgical procedures. The flying surgical suite includes a dedicated operating room and critical-care area suitable for one to two patients. The suite includes an operating table, critical-care bed, staff and communications area, and staff seating.

One of the main features of the modules is their ability to be loaded, unloaded, and returned to service quickly without the need for time-consuming and costly decontamination procedures. And once a module is unloaded and connected to a power supply, it can be used as a mobile patient care room.

With flexibility, functionality, and safety embedded throughout, the ABES is transforming the way patient transport is done.

“Our newly acquired system now allows us to simultaneously transport four critical care patients requiring medical beds, or 16 seated patients,” says Maj. Even Jacques of the RCAF about their Knight module. “At the same time, we will be able to keep pilots and other aircrew safe from pathogens — a new capability allowing us to evacuate sick patients and carry vaccines on short notice to and from most environments.”